2016 Valor Games Southeast Competition
By Mike Babuin
On Wednesday May 25th over 50 participants entered the 2016 Valor Games Southeast table tennis competition. Valor Games is an annual competition organized by non-profit ‘Bridge II Sports’ held at Duke University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill for the fourth consecutive year. Valor Games offers competition in about a dozen sports for active duty, reserve, and retired military personnel who have been wounded as a result of carrying out their duties associated with their service to our country. This year’s competition was once again sponsored by Martin-Kilpatrick (Butterfly) who graciously provided a dozen top quality, wheelchair accessible competition tables, barriers, and balls.
As in past years, the 2016 table tennis event was conducted by seasoned tournament Director Mike Babuin and included three classes of competition: Standing Doubles, Seated (Wheelchair) Singles, and Standing Singles. Prizes included gold, silver, and bronze medals in each event and were awarded at the post-competition awards banquet held at the ‘Double Tree’ Hotel in Research Triangle Park (RTP).
In the Seated Singles event, multi-year Champion Steve Aoyagi retained his title in a tough match over finalist John Wills. The bronze medal was won for the first time by Ms. Terrell Vaneada. The Standing Doubles event results found the team of C.J. Tarentine and Jules Harris capturing third place, while the battle for first and second place was found Daniel Harris and partner Nate Bias defeating Bill Bjornes and J.T. Mercato convincingly in three 4, 4, 4.
The most popular event was the Standing Singles with over 40 entrants participating. Following a round robin preliminary and second round, the final three remaining athletes were Rob Harper J.T. Mercato, and Daniel Harris. In the match between Harper and Mercato, Harper edged out the win defeating former champion Mercato 7, -7, 10. The next match saw Mercato back on top of his form, as he dominated and eventually defeated, newcomer Daniel Harris convincingly 1, 2, 2. In the final match of the group between Harper and Harris, Harper once again showed his prowess in defeating Harris 7, 7, 10 in straight games.
Thanks also need to go out to Metlife Insurance who provided a team of volunteers that made event set-up, operation, and take down a simple task. Rackets were provided by the Cary Table Tennis Association.
Valor Games organizer Bridge II Sports is to be commended for sponsoring the entire multi-sport competition. For those that desire to become involved as a volunteer, or, as a donor/sponsor for next year’s 2017 event, contact Sports Head Mike Babuin at email@example.com for additional details.